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Beethoven Symphony no.6, F major, op.68, the "Pastoral"
Ludwig van Beethoven

Duration of performance: c. 40 minutes
Time of origin: 1807 till summer 1808.
First performance: December 22, 1808, in Theater an der Wien.
Dedicatees: Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz and Count Andreas Kyrillowitsch von Rasumovsky.
Orchestra: 2 flutes, 1 piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, drums, strings.

Origin of the work

The origin lies in Beethovenís love of nature; he always spent the summer weeks in the countryside outside Vienna.

Place of origin

It was composed in Nußdorf and Grinzing, then 2 suburbs of Vienna, now the 19th district of Vienna. The Schreiberbach runs between the 2 suburbs, that brook which gave him inspirations for the 2nd movement of the symphony. In 1823, on a walk with Anton Schindler (cf. "Österreich-Lexikon"), Beethoven said: "Here I have written the scene by the brook and the yellow-hammers over there, the quails, the nightingales and the cuckoos around have helped me to compose." A Beethoven bust near the Schreiberbach reminds us of his way of composing and of his musical declaration of love for nature.

First performance

On Dec.22, 1808, under Beethovenís direction, in the "Theater an der Wien", within a four-hour concert, in which Beethovenís 5th symphony was also performed for the first time.

The model of the Pastoral Symphony

Justin Heinrich Knecht (1752-1817), music director at Biberachin Würtemberg, known as an organist and writer of works about music theory and music paedagogy. He composed the symphony "Musical portrait of nature", which appeared in Speyer, in Boßlerís publishing firm. It contained extensive comments on the programme("idyllic landscape - thunderstorm - natureís thanksgiving to the Creator"). As Beethoven published his first sonatas in Speyer, we are justified in assuming that he knew Knechtís symphony and that it inspired him for his 6th symphony. Knechtís symphony gets stuck in descriptive elements, whereas Beethoven is bent on expressing manís feeling when witnessing the turmoil of the elements - even during the realistic painting of the thunderstorm. In the part of the 1st violin Beethoven wrote with his own hand: "More expression of a feeling than painting."

Importance of the Pastoral

The Pastoral breaks new ground by means of its new musical form and expression. It is the basis of 19th century programme music, from which the new species of "Symphonic Poem" could develop.

The first sketches call it "Sinfonia caracteristica" and "Sinfonia pastorella", only before publication he called it "Sinfonia pastorale". Among the sketches there was a further comment: "Any painting loses, if it has been driven too far in instrumental music." Therefore a further annotation: "More expression of feeling than painting." This reflects Beethovenís artistic intention: The effect of onomatopeia is not exhausted by imitating nature, but it should convey sensations, as they are mentioned in the headings for each movement.


1st movement: Allegro ma non troppo (Awakening of cheerful feelings on arriving in the country)
2nd movement: Andante molto mosso (Scene by the brook)
3rd movement: Allegro (Merry gathering of country-folk)
4th movement: Allegro (Thunderstorm and tempest)
5th movement: Allegretto (Shepherdsí song - happy and thankful feelings after the storm)

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